Landscape and Literature 1830-1914: Nature, Text, Aura by R. Ebbatson

By R. Ebbatson

This research examines the important centrality of 'readings' of nature in quite a few literary kinds within the interval 1830-1914. it truly is exploratory and unique in strategy, stressing the philosophical and cultural implications in various texts from Tennyson, Hardy, Jefferies and Thomas.

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There hath he lain for ages and will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die. 23 The text, with its potent evocation of ‘the abysmal sea’, speaks precisely to what Adorno defines, in relation to lyric form, as ‘the ponderous depth which resides under its weightless song’ (Adorno, 216). , 216). , 217). , 218). , 220) – the lyric poet ruinously compelled or tempted to emerge from a ‘secret cell’ as a participant in the ‘administered society’ of the exchange economy with those potentially debilitating results which, arguably, Tennyson’s own later career, the ‘damaged life’ entailed by the Laureateship, would illustrate.

3 Locksley Hall: Progress and Destitution The composition of Locksley Hall during 1837–8 coincided with the foundation of the Corn Law League, the promulgation of the People’s Charter and the controversy over the enforcement of the New Poor Law, whilst its moment of publication in 1842 was marked by the riots ensuing upon the rejection of the Chartist petition. 1 Tennyson’s poem is precariously balanced between Utopian and scientifically orientated visions of the future, as when the feverish protagonist recounts how he dipped ‘into the future far as human eye could see’ and ‘Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be’,2 and acquired an ominous sense of social change: ‘Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion creeping nigher,/Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly-dying fire’ (LH, ll.

10 Locksley Hall itself, as a building, thus comes to represent the haunted Otherness pertaining to colonial history, a history in which the law of the Father is constantly redefined, undermined or hybridised in a process through which the coloniser becomes as it were orphaned to himself. Tennyson’s Oedipal variant fuels the hero’s Stevensonian desire to ‘burst all links of habit’: …there to wander far away, On from island unto island at the gateways of the day. (LH, ll. 157–8) Here, under ‘Breadths of tropic shade’, where ‘never floats an European flag’, life appears to offer a Lotos-like refuge from modernity: Droops the heavy-blossomed bower, hangs the heavy-fruited tree – Summer isles of Eden lying in dark-purple spheres of sea.

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